Avalanche Advisory
Advisory: Ogden Area Mountains Issued by Paige Pagnucco for Friday - January 20, 2017 - 5:49am
bottom line

The avalanche danger is MODERATE on steep wind-drifted upper and mid elevation slopes. These shallow drifts might be hidden with a light covering of new snow making them hard to detect. Out of the wind-affected terrain, the avalanche danger is generally LOW. As always, even a small avalanche can have bad consequences if you are in steep terrain.




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current conditions

As of 5am this morning, temperatures in the Ogden mountains are around 20 F. Winds have diminished and are currently blowing 10-20 mph out of the southwest. .

The storm from yesterday didn't amount to a whole lot: Powder Mountain reports 4", Snowbasin 3", and Monte Cristo 3". The Cutler Ridge area though received at least 4" of new snow by midday along with gusty winds. Unfortunately, this new snow buried the surface hoar that developed during the recent high pressure. It's not standing straight up but the crystals are still incredibly weak and now have the potential to be a lingering problem.

Crystal card inserted in buried surface hoar layer on Cutler Ridge.

Amid the lightly buried sun crusts and new wind slabs, good riding conditions on new snow and soft, faceted powder can still be found on shady, wind-sheltered slopes.

recent activity

Along one strangely windy ridgeline, very sensitive wind slabs quickly formed and were easy to trigger on Wednesday.

Photo by Brian Smith of new winds slabs.

Avalanche Problem 1
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

A layer of weak facets exists above and below a thick rain crust from mid-December. This layer exists below 7500 feet and produced massive avalanches last week when it was stressed by heavy snowfall. Triggering an avalanche on this layer should be very hard to do today, but it's worth digging into the snow 3-4 feet to look for and assess this layer. A few inches of snow won't likely have an impact but another large storm could re-awaken this persistent problem.

Avalanche Problem 2
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 12 hours
description

Though winds calmed down by late afternoon yesterday, I expect that wind slabs formed along ridgelines and near exposed terrain features in upper elevations as well as some mid elevation terrain. Avoid steep slopes with recent deposits of wind drifted snow. These slabs could be covered with new snow and hard to see, so notice if the snow feels harder or hollow underfoot as you travel. Unfortunately, I did find buried surface hoar under about 4" of new snow at mid elevations. My first step climbing up an untracked slope I felt a small collapse and slipped backwards. I am hoping this is not widespread and that, at least, the winds at higher elevations did a better job of destroying this pesky weak layer.

The old photo below shows a similar set up to what we had prior to the storm on the snow surface on shady slopes – surface hoar sitting on a thick layer on small faceted snow grains. Even where winds destroy the fragile surface hoar, some of the facets below may persist, providing a weak layer for new wind drifts and new snow. Discovering the distribution of any preserved surface hoar or near surface facets will be important.

Avalanche Problem 3
type aspect/elevation characteristics
LIKELIHOOD
LIKELY
UNLIKELY
SIZE
LARGE
SMALL
TREND
INCREASING DANGER
SAME
DECREASING DANGER
over the next 24 hours
description

Practice safe travel protocols and identify consequences, like trees, gullies or cliffs before entering steep terrain as even a small avalanche can be enough to catch and carry you further than expected.

weather

Temperatures in the mountains today will remain in the low to mid 20's. Winds are forecast to switch to the south and increase a bit in the afternoon ahead of the next impulse. Little accumulation is expected during the day. The Ogden area mountains could see 1-3" tonight and 3-5" more during the day tomorrow, maybe more in favored areas. A bit of a stronger system looks to arrive Sunday into Monday.

general announcements

Remember your information can save lives. If you see anything we should know about, please help us out by submitting snow and avalanche conditions. You can also call us at 801-524-5304, email by clicking HERE, or include #utavy in your tweet or Instagram.

To get help in an emergency (to request a rescue) in the Wasatch, call 911.  Be prepared to give your GPS coordinates or the run name. Dispatchers have a copy of the Wasatch Backcountry Ski map.

Backcountry Emergencies. It outlines your step-by-step method in the event of a winter backcountry incident.

If you trigger an avalanche in the backcountry, but no one is hurt and you do not need assistance, please notify the nearest ski area dispatch to avoid a needless response by rescue teams. Thanks.

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This information does not apply to developed ski areas or highways where avalanche control is normally done.  This advisory is from the U.S.D.A. Forest Service, which is solely responsible for its content. This advisory describes general avalanche conditions and local variations always exist.